President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska: Mental health is one of the biggest global challenges of the future

16 September 2023 - 11:52

Olena Zelenska: Mental health is one of the biggest global challenges of the future

The wife of the President of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, spoke about the results of a special study on mental health, conducted by the British company Alligator Digital at the request of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen. The survey results were presented on September 6 at the Third Summit in Kyiv.

The purpose of the complex sociological research was to analyze how people in different regions of the world evaluate their mental health and how they feel about open discussion of problems in this area. The survey was conducted in 11 countries representing a variety of cultures, languages and traditions. The sample includes countries that are currently at war or have been at war in the recent past or major upheaval, and those that experienced large-scale conflicts many decades ago.

"Along with inflation, poverty, and loss of means of livelihood, mental health, according to residents of various countries of the world, including Ukraine, is one of the biggest challenges today," Zelenska said.

The main conclusions of the study:
• 24% of respondents would feel uncomfortable speaking to a medical professional about our mental health.
• About half of the respondents feel the consequences of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. In particular, 40% of German citizens, 36% of Polish citizens, and 36% of U.S. citizens say that any war in the world affects them as well.
• In wartime, the role of people and interpersonal relationships become more important. 66% of respondents who have suffered significantly due to armed conflicts rely on family for emotional support.
• Young people aged 18 to 24 report the lowest mental health rating the among other age groups: 6.7 out of 10, compared to the global average of 7.5.

Therefore, the stereotype that young people perceive life's challenges more easily than other age groups is only a stereotype, the First Lady said.

"However, there is also a good trend: the vulnerable and sensitive youth are capable of changing the narrative about mental health in their societies. Adolescents are more inclined to perceive people with mental health disorders as strong, courageous and inspiring. They agree that to improve mental health, appropriate educational programs should be supported. The 18-24 age group, more than the older generations, supports the need to raise awareness about mental health in society. By the way, this is one of the directions of the Ukrainian Mental Health Program "How are you?" on the pages of which you can always familiarize yourself with ways of psychological self-help," Zelenska said.

The research was conducted online from August 1 to August 24, 2023, in local language in 11 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Israel, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Türkiye, and Ukraine. A total of 11,000 interviews with respondents aged 13 and over were conducted – 1,000 in each country. The survey was conducted by Alligator Digital, an award-winning UK-based full-service research agency.

The study was prepared within the framework of the Ukrainian Mental Health Program "How are you?" on the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska and with the support of the World Health Organization. The research was expertly supported by Coordination Centre for Mental Health under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Brand Ukraine, and Barrier-Free NGO.

The Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen is an initiative of the wife of the President of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, which aims to develop an international dialogue on the most important humanitarian challenges around the world. The Summit was held for the first time in Kyiv on August 23, 2021. Since then, it has been developing as a global platform to unite the efforts of the spouses of the world's first persons, experts from various fields and global stars and leaders of public opinion to improve the lives of millions of people from different countries. The Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen took place in Kyiv on September 6 and was dedicated to mental health.